Our first game back at the Sunderland LGV Park and our final game of pre-season was both a welcome return and round off with a five-star performance defeating an eager Durham United side.
We were delighted to welcome spectators back for the first time since March and would like to thank everyone in attendance for their compliance with our COVID restrictions.
Excellent work from the club's committee and volunteers as the pitch was in fantastic condition and was primed and ready to welcome football back.
The new home and away shirts for the 2020/21 season were on full display in the clubhouse, a nice preview of how the lads will be looking this season.
It didn't take long for the scoring to open as a pin-point crossfield pass from Callum Hope was brought down by Clayton Davis who rounded the 'keeper with composure and finished into the empty net.
Moments later Stephen Callen capatalised on a goalkeeping error as the opposition 'keeper unsuccessfully attempted to dribble forwards and was caught out by Callen to double the lead inside 10 minutes.
The game kept up it's high tempo as Durham grew into it further but RCA still looking constantly dangerous on the break with Callen finding space on numerous occasions.
Our visitors continued to grow and on around 40 minutes brought one back in unusual fashion as a shot deflected first off skipper Greg Swansbury and then Brad Forster before being tapped in on the goal-line by Cyle Hunter.
RCA's two goal advantage was restored right on half time however as Ross Preston powered a header in off the crossbar from a Dylan Elliott corner, an appropriate way to finish off an impressive first half.
The second period started in a very similar fashion to the first as some neat link up play on the edge of the area led to a deft finish from James Fairley to extend the lead.
Durham weren't down and out though and continued to try and force the issue, breaking through on goal and forcing Robert Dean into a smart save with his feet from a one-on-one.
Callen would be on hand to provide his second and RCA's fifth midway throught the half as he again showed his alert awareness picking up on a loose backpass before taking on the goalkeeper for a tap in.
Several changes were made during the second period allowing the likes of Nathan O'Neil, Tommy Best and Adam Ward some valuable minutes.
In the dying stages RCA remained in control but couldn't make it six of the best despite some decent opportunities.
This victory leaves the coaching staff plenty to think about heading into Tuesday's FA Cup tie with Durham City after plenty of stellar performances which is no doubt a good problem for Martin Swales and co to have.
A very enjoyable game to welcome back not only the side but also supporters and a big thank you to Durham United for their co-operation not only in preperation for the game but also their assistance and compliance in these much altered circumstances.
Also a special mention and a welcome back to the home dug-out to a fully recovered Mark Cowan, a fantastic boost to have the assistant manager back on the sidelines.